By Nati Nazar, Yuliya Yurchyshyn, Oksana Luzhna
Creativity, innovation, and performance are foundational to business success. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for internal stakeholders to grow accustomed to the common framework. Also, similar mindsets lead to a limited number of perspectives. Fortunately, ample talent exists for external talent and ideation infusion. The key to successful external talent integration is to properly harnass said strengths and abilities.
The brainstorming process is a long proven way to generate ideas. This process eventually gave rise to the phenomenon known as crowdsourcing—the pairing of crowds and outsourcing. The term itself was coined in 2006 by Jeff Howe in his article ‘The Rise of Crowdsourcing’ and it did not take long for ‘crowdsourcing’ to become a buzz word across industries.
Techopedia defines crowdsourcing as an outsourcing, problem-solving technique that involves collaboration of different people who are supposed to accomplish a specific task. The participants (aka crowdsourcers) act as subject matter experts (SMEs) and often may be located in geographically distant places. The work is usually done remotely via an online platform and financial compensation is awarded after the completion of a task.
To successfully deliver human-centric solutions and products, companies must leverage a team of talent that is driven by humanistic, value stream design thinking. One of the primary benefits of crowdsourcing is the ability to employ the collective intelligence of cross-matrix thought leaders who are driven by shared vision, goals, and passion.
Crowdsourcing is used to generate ideas for brands and enterprises, but its applications have expanded and the list of success stories is continuously growing. High profile examples of successful crowdsourcing include Wikipedia, Kickstarter, and AirBnB to name a few. Global brands like Amazon, LEGO, and Unilever are having great success with crowdsourcing as well.
Benefits of crowdsourcing
There are numerous benefits to crowdsourcing including:
- Ground-breaking ideas
- Solving complex problems
- Finding new models
- Enhancing efficiency and innovation
- Encouraging out-of-the-box thinking
Addiitonally, crowdsourcing improves scale, diversity, and intrinsic motivation—in the form of learning, competition, and community recognition—vs only typical incentives (such as salary and bonuses). In other words, crowdsourcing delivers you 5Ps: people, purpose, participation, platform, and productivity that deliver significant improvements.
Challenges with crowdsourcing
It would be imprudent to highlight the benefits of crowdsourcing without addressing the inherent challenges that companies may face when leveraging outside talent and ideas. Crowdsourcing delivers a large volumes of information that is often difficult to manage, or effectively implement if solutions are misaligned with standard corporate operating procedures—or when implementation appears too costly.
The greatest obstacle to crowdsourcing adoption is intellectual property. Sharing insider information with outside parties—even with NDA in place—does not something to take lightly. Before adopting crowdsourcing, companies must understand how to mitigate risks.
Safeguarding with crowdsourcing
There are three questions that companies must consider when choosing the right crowdsourcing platform:
- Does the Crowdsourced platform vet its crowd?
- Is the crowd available 24/7?
- How much control is there over transparency?
Answering these simple questions will provide contextual pros and cons to empower the company to choose the right crowdsourcing vendor.
If skepticism persists, but a company feels it could benefit from an infusion of external creativity and innovation—SoftServe offers two viable solutions: Ideation Workshops and Business Innovation Hackathons.
The SoftServe Way
At SoftServe, we bring a human-centric, design thinking approach to crowdsourcing. With our Innovation Platform (an end-to-end management tool that helps to deliver innovation within an enterprise) we empower clients to convert futureproof ideas into executable projects.
The Innovation Platform consist of three modules:
Ideate phase: sets the framework to create, collect, discuss, and prioritize ideas using crowdsourcing power with the possibility to invite customers as well as internal and external partners.
Iterate phase: helps to market-shape your ideas through the process of iteration, make them ready for implementation as you collect and analyze feedback.
Deliver phase: a well-planned implementation process using OKRs framework to track and measure the effectiveness of your innovation.
Security and privacy are among our Innovation Platform’s key market differentiators as a result of our holistic, layered approach to security—aligned with best practices of data processing. Additionally, we embed machine learning (ML) that continuously scans archives to compare past and current ideas so that companies never learn the same lesson twice.
SoftServe’s clients PrecisionExam and Kaufland have already experienced its benefits during Business Innovation Hackathons that were organized for each company in Lviv and Wroclaw respectively.
Business Innovation Hackathon
SoftServe’s Business Innovation Hackathon aligns teams and engages people in strategy development, finding solutions to current problems, or in gaining a new perspective on business challenges. Hackathon success is due to our four-stage process: preparation, workshop, ideas presentation, and proof of concept development.
During this stage, the challenge is assessed by defining the goals and problems on the basis of the interviews with the key stakeholders. As well as jury and evaluation criteria, key stakeholders, and participants are invited to the initiaitve. The preparation part may last from 1 to 14 days depending on the complexity of the issue to be solved, location, and teams distribution around the globe. It is very important to engage right people from the very beginning as this lays foundation and shapes context for the next steps.
Next, the challenge is created in the Innovation Platform and the true ideation process starts. In this stage, teams engage in researching and brainstorming under the guidance of a professional facilitator. Empowered by visibility provided by our Innovation Platform, the client can view all the ideas and provide feedback that sets the direction for the various teams.
Afterwards, teams vote for the best idea and present their pitch to the jury who then choses the winner. This is a very insightful part – often simple ideas get absolutely unusual, new life! It is always impossible to predict the outcome! The pitches are done in best startup practices and promote the spitrit of entrepreneurship, competition and drive.
Proof of concept (PoC)
PoC development is the next step. It greatly assists with the implementation of cutting-edge technology, accelerates solution development and builds a compelling, finished digital product. This comprehensive approach enables our client to validate ideas before investing in full-cycle implementation—ensuring a viable product that truly solves the problem at hand and meets the stated business needs.
This four step process delivers: new product ideas, justified business solutions, a clear business model, vision, and roadmap. Also, our process alleviates client concerns over technical issues, freeing companies to focus on daily business while we work on an innovative and bespoke product.
Any enterprise company that isn’t already leveraging external talent and insights is at a competitive disadvantage to those brands that do. Crowdsourcing brings innovation, collaboration, and improved efficiency to maintain relevance and sustainability on the enterprise transformation journey. Laggards are falling behind at increasing pace while missing out on the opportunities for vision and thought leadership in the marketplace.
SoftServe has over 26 years of experience, 8000+ employees, and 4,500+ engineers. Our 3,500+ enterprise success stories, 98 percent client retention rate, and 70 net promoter score (NPS) speak to our capabilities, reliability, and trustworthiness. Contact SoftServe today and learn more about our Innovation Platform solution and crowdsourcing services.